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MotoGP, Aleix Espargarò: “Seeing Pol again here in Assen is exciting, I know what he’s been through”

The Spanish rider places his Aprilia one step from the podium in the Sprint Race and is 4th.“The pace is good. We’ll check the pressure of the front for tomorrow’s race.” Vinales, 7th: “Wide at Turn 1. Now everything is decided in qualifying.”

MotoGP: Aleix Espargarò: “Seeing Pol again here in Assen is exciting, I know what he’s been through”

Aleix Espargarò and his Aprilia ended this Saturday at Assen on a positive note: 6th in qualifying and 4th, one step away from the podium after the controversial penalty received by Binder in the Sprint Race. But the Spanish rider also has another, more personal reason to be happy: the return to the grid of his brother Pol, who has been absent since  Portimão following a very bad accident on the Portuguese circuit.

In the first few laps, I lost ground because Zarco and Oliveira were really aggressive,” Aleix explained. “So I lost some positions. You know how it goes in this type of race. But then I reached a good race pace, which makes me satisfied. I ended just off the podium, with a gap of two seconds. This gives me confidence to be able to tackle tomorrow’s race well.”

Did the pressure on the front in chasing your rivals give you trouble?
Chasing Fabio, I had the impression of being faster. I reached them in four, five laps. The plan was to reach them and attack. And, as long as I bridged the distance, I had no problems. But as soon as I got too close, I risked losing the front three times. It’s something we’ll work on for tomorrow.

Looking at Fabio’s performance, what stood out was his strength in the last sector, while he had problems on the straight.
This is what unites us,” he continued. “We also had a good pace in the last sector, but the KTMs and the Ducatis in the first sector and at Turn 5 have quite another acceleration. I think Fabio still had some margin, like us, but there are the overtakings to consider.

Were you excited to see your brother Pol back here in the Netherlands?
Yes. I’m glad he’s back, even though he’s not quite where he belongs yet on his bike. When I saw him coming on the grid I got excited. I know what he went through, not so much physically as much as mentally. It’s part of this game, and missing so many races is never easy for a rider to accept. Maybe he wouldn’t have come if I hadn’t pushed in the last two weeks. As his brother, I’m glad he’s back.”

Viñales: “Everything is decided in qualifying”

The day was also quite positive for Maverick Viñales, who finished the Sprint Race in 7th place, during a weekend that began with a heartfelt gesture: that of returning Salom’s 125 to his family.

I’m pleased with the result of this sprint,” Maverick said. “Even if I could’ve achieved more with a better qualifying position. An important race to be able to better face the race on Sunday. Unfortunately, I tried to have a good start, but I went wide at Turn 1 and lost a lot of positions. However, I think I recuperated well. I lost too much time in battling it out with Marini and Zarco. Now, starting in the front row is mandatory if you’re thinking about getting on the podium.”

 

Translated by Leila Myftija

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